“Our local group, students and host families got along so well from the very beginning. We knew that we would be spending a lot of time together throughout the exchange year, so I wanted to create a “hub" that we all had access to.” - Host parents Derek and Nathon
First-time host parents Derek and Nathon have just welcomed their first exchange student to the great state of Kansas. While still learning the ropes of hosting, these two wasted no time getting involved in their local area. They are experts when it comes to using social media to promote connectivity and unity in their community. It’s safe to say these two have jumped in head first and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon.
Their Exchange Coordinator, Diane, says:
Derek and Nathan started our eight families Facebook closed group for everyone to add pictures and accomplishments and events for our whole group to see. They planned and organized a pizza and bowling party – almost everyone came and we had 5 private lanes with couches, etc. At our annual trip to the Royals game, they brought along a grill and grilled up 80 hotdogs to share with everyone. Our group was over 200 people. This is significant because it was over 90 degrees and they grilled for about two hours!
We recently connected with Derek & Nathon about their first hosting experience with Sindre from Norway, how they’ve become more engaged in their area and what they’re looking forward to in the year ahead.
It sounds like you’ve been so involved with events and connecting with other host families. What inspired you to create the social media groups and initiate activities with the other families and students in your area?
Our local group, students and host families got along so well from the very beginning. We knew that we would be spending a lot of time together throughout the exchange year, so I wanted to create a “hub" that we all had access to so we weren’t constantly emailing back and forth. After putting way too much thought into other options, I decided that a Facebook group was the perfect solution. It has actually turned out great because our local group can access and utilize the page. We have used the Facebook page to track events, gatherings, communication and to share pictures of what has been happening. I honestly think the coolest part is that the students’ families can join and see what their kids are up to in America.
Even though you’re still in the beginning of the exchange, what has been your favorite part of hosting?
I think that our favorite part of the exchange so far has been getting to know Sindre on a personal level. Whether it's daily conversation, cooking dinner together or helping him with his homework, the day-to-day interactions have been the most rewarding. It’s also been great getting to know the families and students in our local circle. We all just clicked immediately.
What are you most looking forward to with the year ahead?
I think we are most excited about spending the holidays with Sindre, and really teaching him about our family traditions. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I cannot wait to share that with him. On a broader scale, we are extremely excited to continue to see him grow and embrace new experiences throughout the year. He’s such a great kid and we are extremely lucky to have him join our family.
Deciding to welcome a student into your home is no small task, but it can also become one of the most fun and rewarding things you do. Do you have what it takes to open your heart and hope to an international student? Click here to learn about becoming a host family!
Do you know of anyone who would make a great host family for an exchange student? Click here to refer them to our program.